Fairy tales have been all the rage for awhile, with TV show Once Upon a Time and many (many, many) novel adaptations. But we at RT never really tired of these classic stories, maybe it hearkens back to our Pretty, Pretty Princess days. Regardless, our interest was piqued when we heard of Elliot James' Charming, and we had to hear more about James' take on this classic hero. Here's what James had to say:
One expects certain things from a Prince Charming story: a dream prince, a beautiful woman with a more beautiful soul who becomes imperiled, an element of magic, a rise from rags to riches, and a happily ever after. The thing is though, those stories don’t really belong to Prince Charming at all. Prince Charming is more or less a cardboard cut-out, a bland, earnest (but wealthy and good looking) prop who does this sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde routine where he goes from pretty boy to monster slayer and back again at the drop of a rose.
In my book, the character in the Prince Charming role hijacks the narrative and finally tells the story the way he thinks it ought to be told. And it sure isn't traditional.
For one thing, the main character is not a prince. John Charming is the modern-day descendant of a long line of Charmings, going all the way back to the men who inspired the original fairy tales. Monster slaying and enchantment breaking are a family tradition.
John also isn’t perfect — or charming. He’s blunt and sarcastic and would deny having anything resembling a romantic streak, although it quickly becomes obvious that he is smitten with the female lead.
John’s romantic interest and female counterpart is Sig, who is also the inheritor of a mythological tradition. Sig is a descendant of Valkyries, supernatural warrior maids who took the bravest among the dead to Valhalla. And there are a number of legends where Valkyrie were exiled from Viking heaven for the crime of falling in love. These Norse versions of fallen angels mated with mortal heroes here on earth, had children, and usually died tragically because Norse myths are like that.
The romantic leads are in a similar place, but they got there from two completely opposite directions. John suffers because he has had true love and lost it. Sig suffers from an unhealthy love that she can’t quite break free of — the same person who introduced her to her heritage and trained her has taken advantage of that mentor relationship and now has an unhealthy hold over her.
Neither of my lead characters is the same person by the end of the book. Both John and Sig have issues from their pasts that are threatening to destroy them in different ways, and the truth is, they meet each other just in time. This is the first book in a series, so there is no Happily Ever After, but there is at a Happier Ever After, or at least the potential for it.